Tips For Home Organizing This Spring From “The Minimalists”

How minimalism is going to de-clutter and de-stress your home

A picture of a living room featuring a couch at the center. The image is split down the middle. On the right side the room is cluttered and messy. On the left the room is clean and done in the Minimalist style.

By

Diana Velasquez

on

Jan 21, 2021

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Image courtesy of Netflix

By now most everyone is familiar with Marie Kondo and her “sparking joy” philosophy, but she is only one small cog in the whole minimalist movement sweeping over home practice and design.

Childhood friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, otherwise known as “The Minimalists” are two rising behemoths in the movement based out of Dayton, Ohio. 

And with a blog, a podcast, and two Netflix documentaries to their name they have a lot to say about decluttering your home. 

Minimalism, for those that don’t know, is a lifestyle where you only live with the things you absolutely need. There are varying degrees of minimalism, you don’t have to go immediately for the extreme, but there are lessons to take from the practice when it comes to home reorganizing.

With the internet at our fingertips, and online purchases only a credit card number and a mouse click away, it can be hard to dig yourself out of a spending hole you’ve dug yourself into. But there are ways to stop this nasty habit and get your home cleaner and less crowded with stuff you don’t need.

Here are a few tips from The Minimalists and the movement to help you out. 

A close-up of a hand scrolling over a tablet. On the screen are images of things to buy.
That new jacket you think you need? Think again, chances are you probably don’t. 

Follow the “30/30” rule 

One of the easier to apply rules from the Minimalists, the 30/30 rule is something you should keep in mind anytime you’re looking for a new purchase. From the largest home appliances to the smallest piece of clothing you just think that you need.

The 30/30 rule goes as thus when you have something lined up in your shopping cart online ready to order take a step back from immediately purchasing it. If the object costs more than 30 dollars ask yourself if you can get by in your day-to-day life without it for the next 30 hours. 

If you need it in the next 30 hours, then buy it. If not, then it's probably not necessary to have and already you’ve stopped more clutter from coming into your home, just by taking the extra time to think about what you’re purchasing. 

And if what you’re buying is more than 100 dollars, like a tablet or a designer sweater, take 30 days instead to think about buying it. By the end of that timeframe, you’ll know if it’s something you need. 

A pile of old cassette tapes, each labeled colorfully.
It’s time for closure, and not just on a loved one but with their possessions as well. 

Letting go of sentimental items

Perhaps the most difficult task to accomplish on this list, but in many ways also the most necessary. Getting rid of some of your sentimental items is a necessary step in your home organizing journey. 

Having items from a loved one who’s passed away or someone in your life who you’ve long let go of isn’t a shameful thing, but you need to think about what items of theirs are important. 

Oftentimes after the death of a loved one you’re not thinking too hard on what items to keep and throw away, understandably so. But this leads to a pileup of stuff in your house that you don’t need, that’s just collecting dust. 

When wading through these trinkets think of these three things.

  • Does this item hold any real value? If you’re still holding onto your grandmother’s stack of grocery lists and scratch paper, it's time to throw them out. 
  • Do you actually want to keep this? Don’t keep something of a loved one out of a sense of obligation, if it's causing a problem in your space, toss it. 
  • Would you leave this for someone else? If the object you’re thinking about throwing out is something you wouldn’t leave behind for your loved ones yourself, that’s a sign to get rid of it. 
A closeup of a man looking at his phone. He's stuck on his lock screen typing in his code..
Part of the reason why you’re buying so much stuff is because of your laptop and phone. 

Have a social media detox

To absolutely no one’s surprise, social media is behind part of the reason why we’re buying so much stuff. The Minimalists point out the elephant in the room, that all those ads you see on Instagram and Facebook, whatever websites you're visiting are targeted specifically to get you to buy specific products.

It’s a fact of life now, that the internet knows all our dark secrets, but you don’t have to fall prey to everything they throw at you. Having a social media detox, even if you only start with a couple of days, can help you out this spring when you’re home organizing.

First, think about what apps and websites you visit the most and remove them from immediate sight. If you have a smartphone, delete that app from your homepage. If you’re on your laptop delete your shopping sites from your bookmarks and stay away.

Of course, this is all easier said than done, especially once you realize just how much time you spend scrolling on social media for things to like or purchase. But it gets easier after the first few days once you’ve gotten rid of the impulse. And as soon as you know it, a week will have gone by, and the packages waiting at your doorstep have gone down. 

A woman with curly hair has a couple of colorful boxes in her hands. Behind her there is a pile of more stuff to move.
If you have moving boxes lying around the house, now is a time to put them to good use. 

Host a packing party

If you’re looking for a complete up and down detox of your home this is the option for you. The Minimalists “packing party” will quite literally pack up all the things you own into moving boxes in order to determine how much they mean to you.

The only thing is with this, is that you’re not moving. This project is going to take a while. A couple of weeks at least, because you’ll be moving all of your belongings around to different places, and though it may be the most extreme method on this list it does create a kind of “a-ha” moment for you. 

When commencing this “packing party” be sure to keep these things in mind.

  • Sifting through your closet as well as your rooms is going to get rid of a lot. This might be the best place to start, as giving away clothes is something we often do anyway. 
  • Be sure to have trash bags at the ready, your home is dirtier than you think. Not only is there going to be a lot of stuff to get rid of, but a lot of trash. All the wrappers and dust bunnies under your furniture are waiting for you. 
  • Don’t be materialistic, if something is ripped or ratty throw it away. The whole point of minimalism is to not hang onto things you don’t need, so if the item doesn’t have much use for you anymore chuck it away. 
A man looks at the contents of his wallet over an wooden end table with a small globe on it. He's holding three hundred dollar bills in his hand.
Your funds are not unlimited, just as the space in your house for your purchases has a limit as well. 

Restructure your money spending 

A problem that most Americans have, you’re spending more money than you make. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it can be a hard habit to get out of especially when what you’re spending your money on are useless things you think you need.

Usually when this problem comes up the answer is to start thinking about places in your life where you have unneeded expenses. Your daily morning coffee from Starbucks or that magazine subscription that you don’t even read anymore.

But the Minimalists want you to focus instead on the money you're spending more consciously, the shopping habit that you’ve picked up. 

Figure out what stores or websites you find yourself purchasing from more often than not and evaluate your attachment to them. Do you need to buy a new vase from HomeGoods every month? Do you have to spend that Bath and Body Works coupon for those three candles on sale?

The answer is going to be no most of the time, and you need to acknowledge that you don’t have the money to be buying these things with such frequency. Take a step back, re-organize your priorities and your home will be better off for it. 

A wooden box full on antique and worn looking photos sits on the grass outside.
It’s time to get digital with all your photos and paper trinkets. 

Invest in a photo-scanner

It’s the age of technology, but somehow you still have a whole bunch of paper lying around. This isn’t to say that you can’t have notebooks or scrapbooks full of sentimentalities. Sometimes it's better to look at a physical photo or drawing with your own two hands, after all, we do spend a lot of time looking at screens all day.

However, if your closet is full to bursting with old papers taking up space that you need to organize then it's time to invest in a photo scanner.

Better yet make a day out of it and host a photo scanning party. Invite your friends and family over, maybe even the people in your photos you’ve lost touch with, and go through these archived pictures. You can decide which ones to keep and which ones to toss, and scan the ones you’ve saved. 

The best part about scanning photos is that you can get more organized with them as well. Everyone has that box in their attic full of water-damaged photos that they haven’t taken care of. Well now you can, by organizing your now, digitally scanned photos into folders on your computer and flash drive. 

Here they can stay safe and sound, and easily transferable. And most importantly away from the creepy crawlies in the attic. 

A woman walks out of her home with wo boxes in her hands. The top box is labeled "toys" in pencil.
Here’s a tried and true way to make your home organizing more fun and less stressful. 

Try the “30-Day Minimalism Game”

If you’re one for a game of friendly competition turn your organizing into one! The Minimalists have created the “30-Day Minimalism Game” with that contagious competitive spirit in mind. After all, it's easier to get organizing done when there is a prize at the end of it.

The Minimalism Game goes like this, you find a friend or family member who is willing to partner up with you for the next thirty days. And together beginning on day one, you throw out one item. On the second day two items. The third day three, and so on. 

By the end of the challenge, you’ll be giving or throwing away thirty items. It can sound pretty daunting, but whoever lasts the longest is the winner. 

Here are a few tips for taking on the challenge.

  • Explore every room in the house, because to keep up with the demand as the days go on you’re going to have to look everywhere for something to purge. Check your bathrooms, your basement, your kitchen, everything is fair game. 
  • Keep this challenge shelved for later if you’re a minimalism beginner. Often partakers in this challenge get too focused on the numbers you need per day when in the end the goal is to get you excited about cleaning, not frustrated. 
  • Have a smart reward for the end. Buying something you don’t need as a reward kind of negates the whole purpose of the challenge. Instead think about going out for dinner with your challenge partner, hosting a get-together, or going out for a fun party night. 
A woman with blonde hair in a white sweater sits in a brown chair in her living room, looking out the window.
Adopting a minimalist mindset won’t immediately click, but when it does you’ll feel all the better for it. 

Accomplishing a minimalist re-haul for your home is easier said than done. We have a lot of stuff in our houses, and we have this notion that we need every little bit of it. But this philosophy can quickly border on obsession and stress you and your family out.

We all know that in the grand scheme of it all, the things you own are not nearly as important as the people you’re sharing your life with which is really what Minimalism is all about. 

It’s an evaluation of the important things. A re-framing of the mind, that hopefully with these tips and tricks also extend into a re-framing of the home.

Do you have any suggestions for taking on Minimalism? Leave a comment below and be sure to like and share!

February 12, 2021
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